Thursday, December 9, 2021

Art and Law Roundup: Constructive Masculinity, Divorce, Panhandlers, Trademarks, Boneyards and More…

Something is lost, but something is found. They will keep on speaking her name. Some things change, some stay the same. – Chrissie Hynde

How are you faring with this Covid disaster? As some of you know I’m hunkered down over here in Tejas, enjoying the extra quiet to get work done on my own projects. Lately I’ve been enjoying some heavy classic rock on Ozzy’s Boneyardvia Sirius XM. But, I’m also bouncing off the walls, sometimes literally when early Metallica or Slayer come on and I, to my wife’s chagrin, use our kitchen as a mosh-pit. Although introverts like me relish solitude, I also miss my friends in other parts of the world. Right now there’s a feeling that I’m floating in outer space, unhinged to what I once knew as planet earth. Curious how you’re doing and where you’re doing it. Let me know.

Since I started this Roundup I’ve received a good number of comments and middle-fingers. Yale MFA grad Clare Khambu gives some pushback on my thoughts on art MFA programs, “After 5 years of teaching [in public schools], I felt quite burnt out and decided to apply to MFA programs in order to take a break from my job ad make art for 2 years. Also having more college credits increases my salary.” Donald Daedalaus reads the Roundups “to the end,” and loved my free “Wash your hands” drawing, suggesting I reach out to the “mercenaries at Sotheby’s” to see if they would pimp it out. Might make a good contribution to their current financial malaise. Jackie Battenfield now looks forward to her early Sunday mornings before reading more dire and depressing news in the NY Times (she doesn’t say if it’s the writing or the content). Just call me “Angel of the Morning.” Caroline Keegan is enjoying the “Morning Women” and suggested I add Phoebe Briders to the list (I did). Dialing-in from the good ol’ 915, one of my best art and education teachers ever, Gaspar Enriquez, finds my views “informative and humorous.” And another reader, wishing to remain anonymous, wonders why I’m such a jerk. I am loving your comments and truly “honored and humbled!” Please keep ‘em coming. Feel free to email me here.

Apparently Covid is increasing the number of divorces world-wide. However, it’s also caused couples to get creative with new ways of dealing with nuptials. So if you’re getting married and are also an avid Guns-n-Roses fan, you can now get a wedding cake that features Slash’s hat and…actual hair!

How many of you were Dead Kennedy’s fans? It appears that the DKs applied to the U.S. Copyright Office to register the artwork to their logo for federal protection. At first the Copyright Office denied the DKs application. After submitting an appeal, the Copyright Office changed its mind.

A recent Virgo horoscope mentioned that “There is evidence to show that music can influence the amount of milk a cow produces. According to dairy farmers, gentle classical music is the most effective, whereas heavy metal has the opposite effect on the yield!” Yeah, well, I drink almond milk.  

The former chief executive of Paddle8, Valentine Uhovski, is being sued by a coalition of unnamed creditors. Uhovski “allegedly ‘engaged in acts of gross mismanagement and disloyalty’ by using funds from online sales—including charity auctions—to pay the company’s operating expenses.” I think someone should make a TV series on art industry shenanigans, starring Uhovski and Inigo Philbrick.

What was the first influential art work you saw? My dear friend, Lisa McCleary asked me that question last week and my immediate thought was Joan Miro’s “Birth of the World.” It is the one work that gave me that “aha!” moment you “get” when modern art makes sense but can’t quite articulate why. I’m back to wanting to experience that feeling again when I seek out art these days but rarely find it (unless it’s historical work). But, I think in reality the answer to Lisa’s question is KISS’s Alive album from 1975 (see above). It also gave me that same “aha!” feeling but not restricted solely to visual art. That “aha!” moment applied to life. You’re probably thinking that I’m some kind of masculine retard, but you have to remember that this was the late 1970s Texas, so for a kid from El Paso that was quite a huge “AHA!” Then I come to find out that the weird but groovy tunes on this album were being produced by four guys from some place called Queens, New York, two of whom were Jewish and two who were Italian. Where the hell is Queens, NY, I thought? I won’t bore you with more on that story now, but if you’d like to know how KISS impacted my views on art and law, you might like this interview I did in 2015 for the Yale Journal of Law and the Humanities.
Remember last week I mentioned that every time an award, grant or prize is awarded you pretty much see the same faces and the same old names? I called that the Edward James Olmos Effect. How many of you know who I’m talking about? Hollywood actor? Correct. He’s that one guy that’s played the role of a gang-member, high-school teacher, Nobel Prize winner, and octogenarian grandmother…all in one movie. When it comes to the representation of Latinos on the big screen, Hollywood has one answer. Sadly, I think the art world is pretty much the same.

Good for your mind. I haven’t read this book yet, but based on reviews—and my very memorable law and psychology law school class—this text looks to be dense yet informative and fun. It’s a book on the history of the insanity defense, by Susan Nordin Vinocour. If any of you do read it anytime soon please let me know your thoughts. I also found this interesting artist, Gabriel Edwards, on Instagram last week. Love his drawings—especially The Stuff of Horror Movies series. Hot!

If 2020 was a car.

If you’re having a hard time articulating our current predicament, you’ll have much in common with Cassie Packard and her thoughts on Leon Golub and his images: “Right now, I want images that aren’t afraid to be bleak, unflinching. I want an image that I can’t look away from.” The one position in Packard’s essay that I disagree with is her use of “toxic masculinity.” I find this term—as is currently beloved by so many on the far left—to be somewhat simplistic and overbroad. Not all masculinity is toxic, and if it is, then of course we have toxic feminism and so on. Which “masculinity” and from what socio-cultural-racial position it is being defined would help quite a bit. Labeling something “toxic” is moralistic and self-serving. It’s only bad if leveraged against what we want to be our enemy—our monster—for the sake of strengthening the belief in our position and views as self-present and self-sufficient—to be true.  The issue of who wears and who doesn’t wear face masks during this time is also complicated in this country by many other factors other than Trump and his cronies, including the ever present—and erroneously defined—individualism and the distrust of government.

But it’s not just men. The same principle that pro-Second Amendment folks harp on, i.e.- no one can tell me what to do, is the same principle loudly proclaimed and banked-on by those that believe that government can’t tell them what to do with their bodies. It’s an interesting marriage that appears to only reside in the good ol’ U.S. of A. (And if you believe that there’s a difference between guns and bodies then you’re that idiot that believes that morality is self-present.) Many of you know me and would probably agree that I am somewhat masculine. But, I wear a mask. I’m not a Bernie-bro, or anyone’s bro for that matter. I don’t bully the weak and I don’t protest while waving U.S. flags and brandishing semi-auto rifles. So perhaps there is another kind of “masculine,” one I would call, constructive masculinity.

Crazy. I wrote a few weeks ago about the TV series, The Walking Dead, and how I am finding it extremely and eerily poignant during this Covid party we can’t quite find the exit door to. TWD, as we call it, provides good pop-cultural examples on the difficulties of leadership and government. How power and the exploitation of the weak reside in us all. How we are basically days away from a life that is nasty, brutish and short. Or maybe not. Remember the Lord of the Flies? Apparently it actually happened, but the outcome was quite different. Check this out.

If you’re a licensed attorney and your law firm pays for your Continuing Legal Education, you might be interested in this copyright CLE program by the Practicing Law Institute of New York. I’ll be presenting on copyright issues in public art, and will be talking about why moral rights waivers are not exactly a good idea (unless you’re a developer). While on self-promotion, my good friend Elisabeth Smolarz has organized an exhibition on reality and truth, ?????? is Sublime Propaganda, and I have one project on view. There’s a Zoom opening next Wednesday, May 20th, at 2pm EST. Maybe I’ll see you there.

“The oddity in all of this is the people Trump despises most, love him the most. The people who are voting for Trump, for the most part … He wouldn’t even let them in a fucking hotel. He’d be disgusted by them. Go to Mar-a-Lago, see if there’s any people who look like you. I’m talking to you in the audience.” That was Howard Stern last Tuesday, making waves and controversy for saying what, I believe, no one has yet to articulate. It’s true; painfully true. It made me think of how similar this is to the state of the current art industry. Just replace Donald Trump with certain sectors of the artworld, and you’ll see how some of those sectors—you know which ones—are the Mar-a-Lagos of the art industry.  

I’m not writing the following rant to sound like some self-important jackass, but I do hope that this current situation forces artists to re-think their survival strategies. I’m tired—and embarrassed—of reading about how many artists and art spaces want government handouts. How art won’t survive without a lending hand. Why is it that most artists still believe the cliché that they are meant to be at the service of government and others? So my advice to artists is this: realize that there will be another 9/11, another Hurricane Sandy, another Katrina, another pandemic, and another act of God yet unknown to our feeble minds, and that unless you—the artist—are taking this time to figure out how you’ll be financially and artistically self-sufficient, you will find yourself in the same—if not worse—position that you are in now when the next disaster strikes. NYC is over. You don’t have to live there to be an artist or to create whatever it is that you want to create, be it music, art, writing, film or whatever the fuck you call what you do. So get off your ass and write down why exactly you’re in NYC, where you could go if you weren’t in self-imprisonment, what you own, and what you owe. Write down on paper that you will have changed your life and your practice by this time in 2021, so that when the next Blitzkrieg comes you won’t be relying on fundraisers, GoFundMe petitions, pleas for rent amnesties or your prayers.

I’m mad this week.

Remembrance: 10 years ago we lost the great heavy metal singer and inventor of the devil-horns, Ronnie James Dio. RIP, Ronnie!

Until next week, rock on, brothers and sisters! \m/




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